Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 20 January 1923

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Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 20 January 1923

Postby dbennett » Fri Jan 20, 2017 6:30 am

January 20, 1923 paper by Dr. Henry Mercer (1856 – 1930) of Doyleston, PA, “The Zithers of the Pennsylvania Germans” was presented to the Bucks County Historical Society and later published in 1926 in volume V of “A Collection of Papers Read Before the Bucks County Historical Society”.

Here’s a snippet from the first page:

The Zithers of the Pennsylvania Germans.
BY DR. HENRY C. MERCER, DOYLESTOWN, PA.
(Doylestown Meeting, January 20, 1923.)

“A TIME long past through social changes rather than years, has left in our museum eleven remarkable narrow box shaped stringed instruments, so little known, so often forgotten or overlooked by musical antiquaries, yet so linked with the technical history of music, as to demand particular attention. Locally known among the Pennsylvania Germans, who made and played them, by no other name than zithers (pronounced by them as "zitter"), all were found in Bucks County, and eastern Pennsylvania in the last twenty-five years; they are here classified and described under two major groups, namely, first, as plectrum zithers, or zithers played by striking the strings with a quill or stick (the plectrum) held in the hand, and second, as bow zithers or zithers played with a bow...”

In his paper, Dr. Mercer has a photo a "Kentucky Dulcimore" made by “Mr. E. Thomas of Bath, Kentucky," and in his description, he writes of dulcimores, "According to Mrs. Luigi Zande of the Pine Mountain Settlement School, Harlan county, Kentucky, Jan. 24, 1922, it is still played by sliding a quill horizontally over the fretted string with the left hand, while striking the instrument with another quill, or a leather plectrum..."

Here's a link to the paper http://www.zither.us/files/zpg.pdf

Mercer Colage1.JPG
Mercer Colage2.JPG
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